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Three years into our campaign for self-management and ownership and we have achieved our first goal: Demolition of Midtown is off the table! We have had both verbal and written agreement from both Mercy Housing and the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH) that they are no longer planning to demolish any of Midtown’s six buildings. This is because last year, head of the MOH Kate Hartley was forced to agree that there would be no demolition without majority tenant support.
The passage of this measure is a resounding voter mandate for desired change around homelessness, giving the city the resources it needs to finally address the crisis. For thousands of destitute San Franciscans, this has infused hope that they will soon have the opportunity to thrive that only a home can bring. Prop C only taxes large corporations that gross over $50 million and has a detailed plan for both its spending and results and mandates community oversight of the funding.
In California and across the country, progressives are coming together to demand change. We need affordable housing for our communities. On Nov. 6, voters in California will be able to vote on Proposition 10, an amendment that will let local governments determine if housing in their area should be rent controlled based on the needs of those in their communities. Prop 10 is a key example of how we can make California and the rest of the United States affordable for all families. Vote Yes on 10!
The important (s)election process is unfolding across the united capitalist prison terrorist states of america (ucptsa) and here in these occupied Indigenous nations. WE are working to change this deadly system that places higher profits for a few elites over the advancement of our broader population and proper stewardship of nature. Still, voters can mos def play a positive role in slowing down capitalism’s never-ending wars and destructive acts.
The story of how the Richmond Progressive Alliance took power – as of November 2016 with 5 of 7 seats on a weak-mayor city council – is eloquently and lucidly described by veteran trade unionist and labor journalist Steve Early. Early moved to Richmond late in life, but has now produced a compelling work that describes the halting process of holding Chevron and the real estate lobby accountable for its frequent misdeeds by building a dynamic multiracial coalition that eschews traditional party politics.
The Midtown Tenants’ Association would like an opportunity to respond to the op-ed published in the BayView that discredits the struggle for equity and self-management that Midtown tenants have been engaged in over the past four years. We have experienced broad support from the wider community concerned with gentrification and the displacement of Black and working class people from San Francisco. Contrary to what the op-ed claimed, living at Midtown under Mercy Housing is not “much better now.”
Two-term Richmond City Councilperson Jovanka is a leading contender for the open California State Assembly District 15 seat being contested by a dozen candidates. Jovanka wants “power to change the laws, to change oppressive, corrupt and racist policies … Politics impacts everything … We have to put ourselves at the table. If you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu.” She wants your vote and your support June 5 (and again in November) so she can take your causes to Sacramento.
“This is the Black Panthers’ vision, and it’s being evicted,” said Aunti Frances Moore, revolutionary founder of the Self-Help Hunger Program and poverty skola and teacher with POOR Magazine, speaking on the impending eviction from her North Oakland home of eight years and the base of her deep rooted revolutionary community work with the Self-Help Hunger Program at Driver Plaza, a small pocket park at 61st and Adeline, a block away from her apartment.
Repealing the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act by passing Assembly Bill 1506 would go a long way toward strengthening rent control, limiting rent increases and once again allowing cities to regulate the rental rates on rental housing units that have been voluntarily vacated. Passage of AB 1506 would help in the effort to stabilize communities and challenge price gouging by unscrupulous landlords throughout California.
It has been another victory for rent control, just cause eviction protections, and the voters and renters of Richmond. The California Apartment Association retaliated with a lawsuit against the City of Richmond after the voters and renters approved Measure L last November in a landslide victory. In a ruling filed on Feb. 14, Judge Judith S. Craddick of Contra Costa County wrote, “The California Apartment Association’s motion for a preliminary injunction is denied.”
On March 3, the same day that Oakland tenant activists filed a ballot initiative to strengthen renter protections called the “Renters Upgrade,” the California Apartment Association (CAA) announced that they were keeping an eye on things and are coming up with their own plan to counter the tenant’s movement efforts somehow, including in Richmond and Alameda.
On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the Fair and Affordable Richmond Coalition, a group uniting renters, homeowners, organizations, local elected officials, local community activists and labor, filed a proposed ballot measure to protect Richmond’s tenants against unjust evictions and unfair rent increases. The Richmond City Clerk has 15 days to write a title and summary for the initiative. The coalition will have until June to gather 4,198 signatures to place the measure on the November ballot.
On Dec. 14, 30 residents of the Midtown Park Apartments in the Fillmore-Western Addition, along with dozens of community supporters, picketed the San Francisco offices of Mercy Housing to demand Mercy’s removal as its property manager. Midtown tenants also formally announced the filing of a legal writ challenging a recent ruling by the San Francisco Rent Board that Midtown does not qualify for rent control.
Funktown, which is near Lake Merritt, is rapidly being gentrified. You can still find “Funktown” scribbled on sidewalks here and there when the concrete was fresh. But economic cleansing has taken its toll on the hood. It’s just not the same any more. As the renters of Oakland are being terrorized by skyrocketing rents and greedy landlords evicting them by the thousands, city officials have mostly turned a blind eye to the economic cleansing taking place on their watch.
According to Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin, on Oct. 5, Contra Costa County began counting signatures from the petition that blocked renter protections in Richmond from taking effect on Sept. 4, 2015. When the petition was turned in Sept. 3, the California Apartment Association (CAA) announced that they were behind it. Now people in Richmond are anxiously waiting to find out if enough valid signatures were turned in.
Now that the California Apartment Association (CAA) has blocked the implementation of renters’ protections, including rent control and just cause eviction protections, in Richmond, thousands of renters are at risk of being severely exploited with massive rent increases. Additionally, thousands more are now at risk of displacement and homelessness due to no-cause evictions.
The fight to save City College is taking place on two levels. We’re winning one but losing the other. Many elected and appointed city and state leaders have taken action to preserve City College as an accredited, accessible, community-friendly institution that serves all of San Francisco. But on another level, the fight to save City College has taken a terrible toll. Enrollment has dropped from 100,000 students in 2008 to 65,000 this year. The fight to save City College is also the fight to save San Francisco as a truly diverse city, not just a gentrified and overwhelmingly white enclave.
On Tuesday, June 23, the Richmond City Council vote was 4 to 2. The vote in support of just cause eviction protections and rent control was the culmination of a yearlong effort to fight back against gentrification, greedy landlords and real estate profiteers targeting renters with huge rent increases and 30-day no cause evictions. Just cause eviction protections and rent control already exist in Berkeley, San Francisco, Oakland and other cities in California.
I listened as the supervisor at the Housing Authority of Monterey County rattled off a long list of reasons that they thought released their agency from any responsibility for the crisis of Bessie Taylor and her disabled son Devonte, who are now living houselessly in Salinas, California, because the Housing Authority took too long to move on the family’s reasonable accommodation claim, and they subsequently lost their home of 22 years.
On Monday, Feb. 3, residents of Midtown Park Apartments, joined by civil rights nonprofit Brightline Defense, legal services provider AIDS Legal Referral Panel and over 50 supporters, filed the biggest rent control petition in the history of the City and County of San Francisco. The petition requests protection against unlawful rent increases and evictions for 139 low- and moderate-income Western Addition households.